New drivers may lose the ability to call their friends or send them text messages. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.
Nothing in existing state law bans talking on cell phones or even tapping out a text message while driving. The legislation given preliminary House approval Monday would make both off limits — but only to anyone with a learner’s permit or any new driver for the first six months after getting a license. Prior efforts to limit the practice have been blocked by lawmakers who say there already are laws against distracted driving. And, Linda Gorman, spokeswoman for AAA Arizona acknowledged questions of whether cell phone use is any more dangerous than eating a hamburger or putting on makeup while trying to steer.
“So not to say that other distractions aren’t dangerous. I don’t think that that’s the case. But, I think we do need to admit that research shows there’s absolutely no reason for teens to really talk behind the wheel or be distracted,” Gorman said.
Supporters had to compromise beyond the ban being only on some teens. The measure approved by the House allows police to ticket chatting or texting teens only if the officer first pulls them over for some other reason.